Textiles as Material Gestalt: Cloth as a Catalyst in the Co-designing Process

Katherine Townsend, Ania Sadkowska

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Textiles is the common language within Emotional Fit, a collaborative research project investigating a person-centred, sustainable approach to fashion for an ageing female demographic (55+). Through the co-designing of a collection of research tools, textiles have acted as a material gestalt for exploring our research participants’ identities by tracing their embodied knowledge of fashionable dress. The methodology merges Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, co-design and a simultaneous approach to textile and garment design. Based on an enhanced understanding of our participants’ textile preferences, particular fabric qualities have catalyzed silhouettes, through live draping and geometric pattern cutting to accommodate multiple body shapes and customisation. Printed textiles have also been digitally crafted in response to the contours of the garment and body and personal narratives of wear. Sensorial and tactile interactions have informed the engineering and scaling of patterns within zero-waste volumes. The article considers the functional and aesthetic role of textiles through the co-creative development of printed garment prototypes that explore the physical and emotional aspects of fashion and ageing. Within the practice-led research, emphasis is placed on the participant’s involvement through manipulating and animating emerging textile and dress objects. The collaborative exchange draws on fundamental connections between dress and personal identity, utilizing cloth to mediate material and individual agency. The methodology seeks to capture and enact values attributed to material engagement through body-cloth dialogue. By reflecting on the longevity of particular items of dress we investigate how textile attachment can inform emotionally durable fashion solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-231
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Textile Design Research and Practice
Issue number2
Early online date29 Jun 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Publication date of the Volume in which this article appears has been backdated to 2017.

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice on 29 Jun 2018, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/20511787.2018.1449077


  • participatory research
  • embodied knowledge
  • co-creation
  • emotional fit
  • textile attachment
  • material engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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